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New master’s degree makes WKU state’s leader in gifted education

A new master’s degree in gifted education will solidify WKU as the region’s leader in gifted education and programming.

With the MAE in Gifted Education and Talent Development, WKU now offers more coursework in gifted education than any other university in Kentucky. The 24 graduate hours expand upon the gifted endorsement offered at WKU every year since 1983.

Julia Link Roberts, the Mahurin Professor of Gifted Education, will be among the graduate faculty teaching courses for the MAE in Gifted Education and Talent Development. Roberts has been a leader in gifted education on the state, national and international levels for more than 30 years.

Julia Link Roberts, the Mahurin Professor of Gifted Education, will be among the graduate faculty teaching courses for the MAE in Gifted Education and Talent Development. Roberts has been a leader in gifted education on the state, national and international levels for more than 30 years. (Photo by Sam Oldenburg)

College of Education and Behavioral Sciences Dean Sam Evans is thrilled about the impact the new program will have throughout Kentucky and beyond.

“WKU has been the leading provider in graduate level professional development opportunities in the Commonwealth for over 30 years and has garnered a national and international reputation for working with professionals in the area of gifted education and providing programs for P-12 students identified as possessing exceptional talent,” he said. “This degree will provide expanded opportunities for educators and other professionals desiring to increase their knowledge base and skills in the field of gifted education.”

The new degree will offer two pathways leading to an MAE in order to serve both educators and researchers. The Advanced Certification for Teacher Leaders will allow teachers, administrators, counselors, librarians and other special teachers to enhance their knowledge and skills in a concentration that leads to a Rank II certification. The Advanced Research Focus will prepare students for a variety of careers in higher education, government policy work or other organizations and could lead to a Rank I or Specialist degree.

The classes will be taught by nationally and internationally recognized graduate faculty with specialties in gifted education and talent development, including Julia Link Roberts, the Mahurin Professor of Gifted Studies at WKU. She is delighted with the impact graduates of the new program will eventually have on primary and secondary school students.

“Offering the MAE in Gifted Education and Talent Development will open options for graduate study in this important content area,” she said. “The MAE in Gifted Education and Talent Development will complement the exceptional opportunities at WKU with The Center for Gifted Studies, The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky, the international headquarters of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children and the state offices of the Kentucky Association for Gifted Education.”

For over 30 years, Roberts has been an active advocate for gifted children at the state, national and international levels. She serves on the boards of the Kentucky Association for Gifted Education and The Association for the Gifted (a division of the Council for Exceptional Children), and she is one of seven elected members of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children’s Executive Committee. She was described as one of the 55 most influential people in the field of gifted education in the 2004 publication “Profiles of Influence in Gifted Education.” In the last 10 years, Roberts has written eight books on gifted education and contributed chapters to 12 more. Most recently she co-authored “Strategies for Differentiating Instruction: Best Practices for the Classroom” and “Assessing Differentiated Student Products: A Protocol for Development and Evaluation.”

Also on the graduate faculty will be Janet Tassell, who worked with K-12 teachers for 14 years as a gifted and talented coordinator before joining the School of Teacher Education at WKU. She teaches courses in gifted education and talent development, as well as elementary math methods. Tassell has contributed to numerous publications, most recently as leader of a team of 14 authors who wrote and designed six books in the “Explore the Core” series for first through sixth grade students to delve deeper into the Common Core mathematics standards.

Roberts is also director of The Center for Gifted Studies and executive director of The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky. The Center for Gifted Studies at WKU has served gifted children, their educators and parents through educational opportunities, professional development and a variety of other resources and support for more than 30 years. The Gatton Academy became Kentucky’s first residential high school for gifted and talented juniors and seniors in 2007. The Academy was named the top public high school in the United States in 2012, 2013 and 2014 by Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

Contact: Sam Oldenburg, (270) 745-3014 or samual.oldenburg@wku.edu

 

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